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Credit Card Skimming and Unsuspecting Diners

by on January 18, 2008

I came across yet another news story about credit card skimming and the horrors of unsuspecting diners that have had their credit card information stolen. In this latest story, a 21 year old waitress from Salem State College in Massachusetts stole the credit card information of at least 40 of her customers last spring at the local Salem Beer Works restaurant, using the help of a hand held card skimmer.

Apparently, the girl was given the skimmer by one of her classmates at Salem State and prodded into using the device to skim the numbers of her customers. The girl told police that she used the skimmer for a two week period in late March and early April before giving it back to her classmate to download the information from the skimmer.

In her statement to police, the woman said that she agreed to the scheme because the classmate assured her she wouldn’t get caught and because she would make $25 from every card she skimmed. She must have been pretty disappointed when she found out that most of the cards she’d skimmed were useless because they were debit cards that required passwords.

The classmate took the information she had skimmed anyway and sold it. It didn’t take long before the credit card numbers of 14 of her customers were used to make fraudulent purchases at a variety of places, including Saks Fifth Avenue. The cards were also used to make purchases at bars in New York and a variety of high-end clothing stores. The total amount of money billed to the credit card numbers that were stolen totaled at least $30,000 with $11,000 of that being billed to just one man.

The waitress and her classmate are both facing charges of identity fraud and grand larceny and have plead not guilty to all of the charges.

The crime was uncovered when Citibank and American Express contacted police about the suspicious card activity. Investigators for both card issuers had been monitoring a suspicious pattern of fraudulent transactions made with cards that had all been used to make purchases at Salem Beer Works. It didn’t take much to narrow it down to the right waitress because the restaurant required its employees to enter a special ID before placing an order.

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